Patellofemoral resurfacing and patellar denervation in primary total knee arthroplasty

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2015 Jun;23(6):1770-81. doi: 10.1007/s00167-014-3311-z. Epub 2014 Sep 14.


Purpose: To conduct a systematic review and network meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with the aim of comparing relevant clinical outcomes between patellar denervation, resurfacing and non-resurfacing.

Methods: A database search was performed using PubMed and Scopus search engines. RCTs or quasi-experimental designs comparing clinical outcomes between treatments by a search of articles dated from inception to October 23, 2012. Unstandardized mean difference (UMD) and random effects methods were applied for pooling continuous and dichotomous outcomes, respectively. A longitudinal mixed regression model was used for network meta-analysis to indirectly compare treatment effects.

Results: Eighteen of 315 studies identified were eligible. Compared with patellar non-resurfacing, patellar denervation had a UMD that displayed a significant improvement in symptoms with values in pain visual analog score (VAS) and Knee Society Score (KSS) of -0.6 [95% confidence interval (CI) -1.13, -0.25] and 2.55 (95% CI 0.43, 4.68), respectively. The UMD in VAS, KSS, and Knee Function Score (KFS) in patellar resurfacing showed no significant improvement in symptoms when compared to non-resurfacing. Patients who underwent surgery with patellar resurfacing had a lower reoperation rates with pooled relative risks (RRs) of 0.69 (95% CI 0.50, 0.94) when compared to non-resurfacing. The network meta-analysis suggested a benefit of borderline significance for patellar denervation with a pooled RR of 0.63 (95% CI 0.38, 1.03), showing that there is a lower chance of anterior knee pain when compared to non-resurfacing. Patellar resurfacing also displays a significantly lower chance of reoperation with a pooled RR of 0.68 (95% CI 0.50, 0.92) when compared to non-resurfacing. Multiple active treatment comparisons indicated that patellar denervation resulted in greater improvement in KFS than patellar resurfacing.

Conclusion: This review suggests that either patellar denervation or patellar resurfacing may be selected for the management of the patellofemoral component in total knee replacement. Patellar denervation may help improve postoperative knee function, but does not improve pain when compared to patellar resurfacing.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / methods*
  • Denervation*
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / surgery
  • Patella / innervation*
  • Patella / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Reoperation / statistics & numerical data
  • Visual Analog Scale